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Is Ted Cruz the Digital Gamification Candidate?

Cruz With Phone

CANDIDATES AND ECOMMERCE – Ted Cruz plays games.  We don’t mean that as a cynical indictment of the presidential candidate or politics in general.  He literally plays games – Angry Birds, Candy Crush, Plants vs Zombies, and more.  Now that our culture has reached a point where even our presidential candidates are coming out as gamers, it’s time to discuss digital gamification and the benefits it has for your business.

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Dynamicweb Year in Review: The Best of 2014 pt. III

Gamification

*2014 was a pivotal year for ecommerce merchants, with the rise of mobile commerce, social commerce, and continued growth across industries and audiences. To celebrate the end of an exciting year of ecommerce, we’re looking back at best blog posts of 2014 in our Dynamicweb Year in Review.

Fun and Games With eCommerce, Part I: What Is Business Gamification?

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Fun on the Run: Adding Gamification to Your Mobile Strategy

Mobile Cafe

 

Have you ever sat in a college library (prior to Wikipedia) trying to get research done for a class? Even if the subject is interesting, the research process itself gets a little boring. Now, customers do their own research on their own time with mobile devices, and they want that research process to be engaging.

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Fun and Games With eCommerce, Part III: Business Gamification Should Be Fun!

Gamification 3*e-Commerce for E3 – Next week, thousands descend upon Dynamicweb’s home base of Los Angeles to take part in E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo. The SuperBowl of video games. In this blog series, we look at the billion-dollar industry of video games and show how integrating gaming into your e-commerce site increases engagement.

In Part I of this series, we discussed the business side of business gamification. Creating a game on your website has very real benefits, including customer engagement, increased brand loyalty and relevance, and even lead generation when a potential customer signs up for a gaming profile.

In Part II, we began transitioning to the gaming side of the equation. When creating a game, it’s important to think of what you want the game to achieve. Then you give the customer a game with tasks that lead them towards that objective.

But why do customers do the tasks you assign to them? What keeps them coming back? Why are some games addictive while others are played once and discarded? The answer is in the incentive. Business gamification is more about the carrot than the stick.

Show The Customer’s Progress.

There’s a thin line between a chore and a game. Chores feel like endless tasks that one has to do. Games are entertaining in part because the player has something to work for. (More on that later.) And players like to know how close they are to their goals.

If you give the player a task but never tell them how close they are to completing it, your customer would be trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare! And Kafka isn’t a good business gamification strategy. Instead, let your player know how well they’re doing.

There’s a number of ways to let the user see their progress. For instance, if the goal is to “Build X number of products using a configurator”, then your game might give the player points for each product they create. If the number breaks down into clean percentages, then let the player know if they’re exactly 25% from their goal.

One common representation of advancement is the progress bar. LinkedIn incentivizes users to fill out their profiles by showing a bar that fills up with each aspect that a user completes in their profile. That is their business gamification objective. LinkedIn, as a social network, works best when its customers share the most information. The progress bar drives the compulsive human need for completion. Filling up that little bar is surprisingly addictive.

Progress Towards A Goal

We alluded to this earlier. If you want to encourage human behavior, you want a carrot attached to your stick. In business gamification, customers might perceive a game without a reward as a chore, and you definitely don’t want that. The good news is that rewarding the player is rewarding for you also.

To drive further engagement with your brand, profile badges and community awards make for great rewards. These prizes identify members of the community (whether they post in blogs, forums, etc.) as brand advocates who are more knowledgeable about your products. Players are then rewarded with status, in addition to a shiny colorful graphic badge, and other players are encouraged to become more active members.

B2B companies have a great opportunity to think outside the box with their rewards. When a player has achieved a certain level of success, why not give them special access to your company at trade shows or events? B2B products are often more expensive and require long sales cycles, so this type of special attention is a good investment on quality, engaged leads.

Special discounts, early registration for newsletters/webinars, or even virtual “currency” for profile rewards like unique badges all make good rewards as well. Additionally, if you want to keep your customer always coming back for more, surprise them with spontaneous prizes (“50 extra bonus points for downloading this whitepaper!”)

Objective. Task. Progress. Reward.

OTPR. It doesn’t make for the cleanest acronym, but those are the top four steps for making a game. First, think of your business gamification objective or what you want for yourself. Then come up with a gameplay mechanic or a task that is (a) fun, (b) interactive, and (c) incentivizes the player to behave how you want them to. Next, show the player their progress to keep them invested in your game. And, of course, give them a nice reward. When a customer truly invests time and effort into a branded game, then that player deserves their prize. And so do you.

 

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Fun and Games With eCommerce, Part II: Business Gamification For You And Your Customers

Gamification 2*e-Commerce for E3 – Next week, thousands descend upon Dynamicweb’s home base of Los Angeles to take part in E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo. The SuperBowl of video games. In this blog series, we look at the billion-dollar industry of video games and show how integrating gaming into your e-commerce site increases engagement.

People of all shapes and sizes and age ranges love games. The old stereotype of 14 year-old nerds with taped-up glasses playing video games in the basement has proven untrue. Now, even Grandma plays games on her tablet, and she’ll beat your high score too!

Games (as part of your marketing strategy) hold a natural appeal for your customers. And for you, business gamification drives engagement, encourages brand loyalty, teaches about your products, and gathers data also.

In Part I, we covered the benefits of business gamification. But how does a company turn its offerings into games?

For You

Games are fun for customers, but business gamification is, firstly, for your company. This initiative, while fun, ultimately exists to give you a good ROI. Before creating a game, think about what your objectives are. Do you want customers to share your products on social media? Do you want them to download as much content (i.e. whitepapers) as humanly possible? Or do you want to keep your brand at the forefront of the conversation for a pre-existing niche group of customers?

Before you influence your customers’ behavior, it’s best to know what you want them to do. Once you have your own objectives in mind, let them dictate the type of game you create. In one example of business gamification, ShopKick is an app that has game mechanics that reward users who interact with specific products and even go to specific retailers. When ShopKick gives a player points for going to a Target store, it’s pretty clear what type of behavior they’re trying to influence.

For Your Customers

Games don’t exist unless the player is interacting. Interaction is the main difference between passively consuming content and gaming. The key to any game are the gameplay mechanics. Gameplay is what the player is actually doing. This is the hard part! For a good customer experience, you want a task that is both fun and interactive. And that task should support your objectives for business gamification.

One example we give in Fun and Games, Part I, is for a manufacturing company. Our suggested game asks the customer to “Build X number of products using a configurator.” The idea of customizing products allows your website visitor to be creative and interact with the site directly. As a result, configurators are particularly well-suited to interactivity and gaming. And while the visitor plays with your configurator to complete gaming objectives, they simultaneously train themselves to use the configurator in addition to learning about your products.

This gaming example even helps potential customers to understand certain manufacturing constraints, such as specific parts that don’t work with other products. For instance, not all parts fit together in configuration because of power consumption limitations. By implementing business gamification with your configurator, the player begins to learn these constraints. You might even want to have another quiz game where players have to guess and select different parts based on how much power they consume. And these are just two examples! The gaming possibilities are endless.

If You Build It, Will They Play?

Once you’ve decided what your own objective is, you’re prepared for business gamification. And once you’ve decided what you want the customer to actually do in order to support your business goal, you’re ready to build a game.

But just because you build a game, does that make it fun? Does that make the customer want to play it? In Fun and Games, Part III, we’ll go over what makes games addictive and rewarding. Two attributes that keep customers coming back to games, again and again.

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